Area library publishes online literary magazine

Fourth & Sycamore isn’t just the location of the Greenville Public Library; it’s the title of the online literary journal of the library —

David Nilsen, Greenville librarian and editor of Fourth & Sycamore, says he knows of only one other library-run literary journal in the United States — at the Manatee County Public Library in Florida (

“The journal really started as a blog,” Nilsen says. “When I started here two years ago, the library wanted a news blog that would keep library patrons apprised of events and that sort of thing. But I decided we could do something bigger, something we weren’t seeing other libraries do.”

He started the journal in October 2014. At first, he says, he did most of the writing about local history.

“After a couple of months, we had enough visitors to the journal’s site that we felt we could start calling for submissions,” Nilsen says. “For the last year and a half, we’ve been publishing work from writers all across the United States and beyond.”

For example, one book reviewer is from England; the journal has also featured poetry by writers as far away as from South Africa and Vietnam.

“We publish everything from book reviews, to poetry, to fiction, to personal essays. But we’ve continued writing local history pieces ourselves. Our goal is to have a blend of very local interest in our local history pieces and global appeal in the creative writing pieces,” Nilsen says.

Interest in the site has blossomed, he says, from almost no traffic at its inception to 3,000 to 5,000 unique visitors each month in 2016.

Nilsen himself has a keen interest in writing and literature. He grew up loving books, he says, but after graduating from Greenville High School, entered into banking. Two years ago, he realized he needed a change, and took his job at the library. He likes to write mostly creative nonfiction, but has a growing interest in writing fiction. Learn more about his work at

Though Nilsen is the editor of Fourth & Sycamore, he has two advisory readers who serve as assistants in making the selections for the journal.

“As many journal editors say, we’re not looking for writing on a particular subject,” Nilsen says. “We want good writing!”

He encourages writers to visit the site and look at the submission guidelines, under the “Write For Us” tab.

“I’m really proud of the writers we’ve published and what the library has been able to accomplish with this journal in such a short time,” Nilsen says. “And I’m always happy to talk with other librarians and libraries about starting their own journals, too.”

Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award

This year’s winner of the achievement award, named after the late U.S. diplomat who brokered the 1995 Bosnia peace accords reached in Dayton, goes to Marilynne Robinson. She is the 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner for “Gilead,” as well as the author of “Home,” “Lila,” and “Housekeeping.” Ms. Robinson has also won the National Humanities Medal and the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. She will receive her Dayton Literary Peace Prize award at the organization’s awards ceremony and dinner on Nov. 20. Learn more about the Dayton Literary Peace Prize at

Upcoming Literary Events:

• Tuesday, August 30, 6:30-8:30 p.m.: Community Room of Oakwood Starbucks (2424 Far Hills Ave., Oakwood) —“So You Wanna Write?” a Word’s Worth Writing Center ( class led by local author and writing coach/instructor Katrina Kittle. For more information or to register, visit the center’s website or call 937-475-5177.

• Thursday, Sept. 1: Deadline for applications for Antioch Writers’ Workshop ( fall writers’ retreat, to be held Oct. 14-16. Visit the organization’s website to learn more about the retreat leaders, location, application guidelines, and other details.

• Monday, September 12, 1:00-3:00 p.m., Washington Centerville Public Library (111 W. Spring Valley Road, Centerville) — As part of the library’s ongoing 2nd Monday Authors’ series, Dayton-area author Raul Ramos Y Sanchez will discuss his newest book, “The Skinny Years,” which follows a family fleeing the Castro regime in Cuba in the 1960s. Also, Cincinnati-area author John Kachuba will discuss his newest book, “The Savage Apostle,” following the tensions in 17th-century New England between colonists and the Native population. Both authors will have books available for purchase and for signing, and both have extensive publishing credentials. See the library’s website,, for more details.

Sharon Short’s column on literary events and people in the Miami Valley runs every Sunday.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Middletown police warn of impersonators pulling people over
Middletown police warn of impersonators pulling people over

Middletown police are warning residents about a group of teens pulling people over impersonating police officers. Police made the public warning on its Facebook page on Sunday evening. Police said four white teens are driving around Middletown in a blue or gray convertible that has a light on the dashboard as well as a loud speaker and air horn. Anyone...
New Ronald McDonald Family Room opens inside Dayton Children's Hospital
New Ronald McDonald Family Room opens inside Dayton Children's Hospital

The Ronald McDonald House now has a new family room after a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sunday afternoon. The new and spacious family room opened up inside the Dayton Children’s Hospital, according to a release. The room is in the west wing of the hospital and has computers, napping pods, a kitchen, laundry, and shower facilities. It’s also...
2 businesses granted request to become part of Middletown
2 businesses granted request to become part of Middletown

Middletown grew by about three acres Tuesday after City Council approved an annexation request. Council approved an emergency ordinance to approve the annexation request of property owners Crown East Ltd. and DKD LLC for about 3.089 acres in Franklin Twp., located near 4501 South Dixie Highway, 6962 Coles Road, and Talton Driv. A gas station/convenience...
Kettering Medical Center hosts reunion for NICU babies and families
Kettering Medical Center hosts reunion for NICU babies and families

More than 300 people celebrated a reunion for children born in a NICU and their families Sunday afternoon in the Nelson Conference Center located at 3535 Southern Blvd.  Kettering Health Network hosted their third reunion for children who were patients in the hospital’s Level III B Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), according to a release...
Guest speaker Judge Hatchett spoke about Women’s Day at church in Dayton
Guest speaker Judge Hatchett spoke about Women’s Day at church in Dayton

News Center 7’s Letitia Perry introduced TV personality Judge Glenda Hatchett Sunday morning as a guest speaker at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church located at 2262 N. Gettysburg Avenue.  This service was the culmination of a month’s long celebration of activities focused on women called, “The Queen in You.” &ldquo...
More Stories